Susan is a professor of midwifery at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand and visiting professor at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. She has worked in health care practice for 34 years. For over 25 years she has practised as a midwife in a variety of settings, home, birth centres and hospitals in several countries such as UK, Sub-Saharan Africa, Armenia, Russia, NZ and France in a variety of roles (clinical practice, education, research and leadership). Susan helped set up a south London group practice in the mid 90s and then went into self employed independent midwifery practice serving London and southern counties. Then she went onto to take up post as one of the first UK NHS consultant midwives. Susan was the first consultant midwife in Cambridge UK where she set up a birth centre and organised the provision for a waterbirth service. Susan’s passion has always been on primary maternity services based on continuity, tact and partnership.
Susan immigrated to New Zealand in the mid 2000s where she set up a remote self employed independent rural midwifery service on the Kaipara. After several years Susan also begun work as a senior midwifery lecturer at AUT University in Auckland NZ whilst continuing to occasionally provide locum service for midwives in rural areas. Following completion of a funded postdoctoral NZ rural maternity research project she accepted the offer of a professorial chair in midwifery at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen in 2015 and relocated back to the UK. In 2019 Susan returned to New Zealand and took up her 2nd professorial position.
Susan completed her Honours degree at Kings College University of London in the early 90s, her honours dissertation explored the experiences of maternity care providers working with HI/AIDS in the early 90s in Sub-Sahara Africa (Malawi), her Masters (MSc) was completed at Surrey University in 2000, her MSc dissertation using grounded theory examined midwifery intuitive decision making and the diagnosis at the onset of labour. Susan went on to do her PhD which examined the lived experience in and around the moment of birth in a variety of circumstances and perspectives. Her PhD thesis revealed how all births are significant and meaningful. The thesis showed how there is a special time at birth, Kairos time, a unique quality of being together, opening of a unique space and an embodied experience. These qualities coalesce into a sacred joy that gestures a celebration of our shared natality. The PhD philosophical underpinnings were hermeneutic phenomenology and the thesis proved to be a labour of love.
Susan’s thesis link: Crowther, S. (2014). Sacred joy at birth: a hermeneutic phenomenology study (PhD). Auckland University of Technology. Available online: http://hdl.handle.net/10292/7071
Susan writes and publishes regularly in midwifery journals and is on the editorial board of 3 peer reviewed publications (The Practising Midwife, BMC Pregnancy and Birth and Women and Birth journal), she is a member of the ICM’s Research Standing Committee. She contributes as reviewer and editor on various journals including Journal of Qualitative Health Research.
Susan continues to be proactive both internationally and internationally. Her recent professional and research interests are spirituality and childbirth, psycho-spirituality of childbirth, joy and fear cultures in and around childbirth, rural maternity experiences and continues to be a passionate advocate for relational midwifery models of care and highlighting sustainable caseload midwifery practice. She is keen to connect with others who seek deeper knowing about meaning, life’s purpose and the depth of relational complexity that makes midwifery, childbirth and life inspiring.
Her ongoing research interests are:
- Spirituality and childbirth
- Rural and remote rural midwifery and maternity care
- Sustainable continuity of carer models in midwifery
- Relational continuity in midwifery care
- Compassion and sustainability of maternity cultures
- International midwifery especially the UK and New Zealand midwifery models of care
- Migrant women’s experiences of maternity care when they do not speak English
- Antenatal education and preparation for labour/birth, and post natal
- Qualitative methodologies especially those within interpretive paradigm e.g. hermeneutic phenomenology